Sprint Slowly Screws – Updated

Update: It took quite an effort but our problem with Sprint now appears to be resolved. Our account was properly credited for the amount we overpaid, and in our online account our plan looks correct going forward.

Sprint Corporation has gone out of the way to make customers hate them. What follows is a tale of false promises and repeatedly delaying tactics. It is comical that a company named Sprint screws its customers slowly.
It all started a couple years ago when a friend working for Sprint encouraged us to sign up with the company for a business plan. It sounded good and was mostly okay. One issue was the quality of phone service at our home.
We were told Sprint was about to upgrade the nearest tower and all would be just fine. While that upgrade did happen, it took more than a year longer than we were originally told.
As our 2-year contract was coming up, a new Sprint representative contacted us about signing up for a new deal.
She tried to sell us on various plans that would upgrade our phones and, of course, cost us more money. Since we don’t need new phones, our main goal was and is to reduce our monthly cost. She kept sidestepping this and trying to sell us on different plans. But finally she sent the following in an e-mail on October 25th:

Hello Warren,
If you can wait until 11/25/2016 you will be out of contact for 4 lines. In which your plan will drop down to $100 automatically because 4 of the lines instead of paying $35.00 you will then pay $10.00. Until then this is the best plan we have.

While her e-mails were inconsistent and confusing, we understood that each of the four lines coming out of contract would drop $25/month, for a total savings of $100/month ($35/line dropping to $10/line is $25/month per line). This is typical – you get a “free” phone with your plan but the monthly rate is increased by a certain amount per month for two years to pay for the phone.
November 25th came and went. Our bill did not go down. We never heard from her again. She did not respond to follow-up e-mails. We figured it would be corrected on the next bill but it wasn’t.
Since she was not responding, I ended up speaking with another rep on January 6th, and followed up by sending him e-mails. he confirmed that our bill was supposed to drop by $100/month, and that we were due to get a $110 credit ($100 for the current bill and $10 for the three days from the previous bill).
He called me again on the 11th saying that the problem had not been resolved yet but he was working on it. I followed up to document the conversations, but he never responded to any e-mails.
Today I checked my Sprint account online. The latest bill is due in four days and the issue has not been corrected.
So I called Sprint. First I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with “Tyrone.” I have no idea why this simple issue would take so long but I kept waiting and waiting. He kept telling me he was taking care of it, and then that he had to clear it with a supervisor. Then he told me his supervisor set it to credit our account on the next bill.
“Why not on the current bill?”
Of course Tyrone had no answer to this question. Finally I’d had enough and asked to speak to a supervisor. After another substantial delay “Archie” came on the phone.
This is where it really starts to go downhill. Archie now tells me that my monthly rate is not supposed to drop by $25/month for each line out of contract. He doesn’t know why previous reps told me that. He does not have access to the e-mails between myself, Ms. Soto and Mr. Addison (even though Tyrone spent 45 minutes or so working on this and told me did see the e-mails). When I asked Archie for his last name he refused to tell me.
After multiple phone calls with four different employees of Sprint, I realized that they are never going to give me a straight answer and they’re not going to honor any promises they make. I told Archie that we’re not going to pay this bill. We are going to shop for new phone service with a different company (which will probably screw us just as badly when they get the chance).
I told Archie they had 24 hours to get this straight and hung up. My phone showed I had been on the phone with them for over an hour, all to resolve what should be a very simple issue following what previous Sprint reps had told me would be done.
The conversation was about an hour ago. After I started writing this I ran an errand and came back to finish the article. My Sprint account now shows two credits totaling $95 (not the $110 I was promised). The monthly rate does not appear to have changed.

It also indicates “new activity will be displayed in 15 minutes.” It is possible that more credits might appear, and/or that the plan rates might be fixed. But this was a very unpleasant experience. There is no conceivable reason for Sprint to take this long to resolve an issue and to refuse to give straight answers or honor their promises.
This does not bode well for the company either. The current market cap is $34 Billion with the stock trading around $8.50/share. If the company is this poorly run, expect the stock to fall.
This author does not own stock in Sprint, nor in any of its competitors.

50 FBI Agents Raid Wimbledon Health on Palmetto

Readers reported a raid this morning by the FBI (and/or a SWAT team) and one reader sent us the above photo. Multiple sources tell us the raid took place at the office of Wimbledon Health Partners, a company that does diagnostic testing of student athletes.
Our first tip came from a very reliable source:

Wimbledon Health [at] 7000 West Palmetto Park Road, Suite 205 was just raided. Looks like Wolf of Wall Street here. At least 50 FBI agents.

I spoke briefly with the company’s Chief Legal Counsel, Robert Grabemann, who works out of Chicago. He politely declined to answer any questions about the incident. He would not even admit or deny that anything took place (and I specifically asked that). The Miami FBI office has so far not responded to our inquiries and the Washington office told us we probably won’t get a response from them.
Readers were unsure what the company does. Their website says:

Wimbledon Health Partners has provided cardiovascular testing to over 151 schools nationwide to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes—nearly 20,500 students tested, and counting!

Mitchell Rubin is listed on the company website as Founder and CEO. It is a common name but a “Mitchell Rubin” was named in an article about a lawsuit in Chicago involving Veridian Health.
The building is on the southwest corner of Palmetto Park Road and Powerline, near Olive Garden and McDonald’s. The same building has had some notoriety in the past for activities at a currently defunct nightclub including shootings. It otherwise seems to be a normal and even upscale office building.
Update from one source:

There was no SWAT team – just regular FBI agents and analysts to go through the computers and files in the office.
The reason you see FBI members on multiple floors in the picture sent in is because Wimbledon Health has offices on 2 floors.
The reason they had that amount of FBI agents was solely because of the number of employees. They needed to be able to assure no one destroyed files during the raid and the manage that many individuals needs a manageable ratio of employee to FBI agent.
To my knowledge, no one was arrested at the scene. There were a number of people questioned then let go. All that was seized were computers and files. The owner Mitchell Rubin was not present at the time of the FBI raid. His car was not in his reserved parking spot all day.

Second update: WPTV reports that this was a search warrant related to possible healthcare fraud. “Rubin says he is not aware of any allegations regarding healthcare fraud.”
Third update: We found a Complaint from a federal civil lawsuit in Chicago that appears to be against a “Mitchell E. Rubin”. We can’t confirm it’s the same guy.
[gview file=”https://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/rubin-fraud-chicago.pdf”]

Huge Project Proposed for Glades Road

Residents of Palma Vista are concerned about a project proposed for the south side of Glades Road between Home Depot and 95th Avenue. This would be across from the Glades Road library.

Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.
Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.

The proposal, called Johns Glades West (or Johns Glade West) calls for:

  • 169,000 square feet of commercial space with restaurants, a theater, retail and a grocery store
  • A 133,000 square foot parking garage for the stores
  • 7 residential buildings, 5 stories each, with a total of 456 units and a clubhouse all totaling 650,000 square feet of residential space
  • A 112,000 square foot parking garage for the residences
  • A total of approximately 2000 parking spaces

It is our understanding that the developers will make a presentation to the Palma Vista Homeowners Association on November 21st at 7 pm. Some homeowners have expressed concern insufficient notice and about having “5 story buildings looking down on our single family homes.”
This would seem to be a very intensive use of the property with major traffic impacts on Glades Road. Our best guess is that the developer is floating a plan it knows will never get approved and they’ll come in later with a real plan for something much less.
Below is a close-up of the stores section of the plan.
And next the homes section:
PDF of the project plan is below:
[gview file=”https://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Johns-Glades-West_PSP.1.pdf”]

Q & A with Pat Quinn, Managing Director of Field Operations for Rat Busters


  1. What year did your business start?

We started the company in 2015.

  1. How and why did you get into the business?

After 9 years working for Pest Control companies throughout my partners and I had a discussion about the huge need for an animal removal company. We briefly considered starting a company prioritising in the removal of termites from homes, but felt the market was already quite saturated. If you visit website here, it will show you just one of the competing termite control services out there. We noticed that there was a high demand from Florida residents looking for a nuisance wildlife removal business to be managed professionally and ethically and at the same time, whose fees for services are reasonable and fairly priced for all parties involved. There are too many animal removal businesses out there who are simply try to gouge the customer with ridiculously high prices, even though they provide sub-par work and lousy guarantees. The demand for rat removal, raccoon removal and other critters is so high and the people who are looking to find a pest control provider have very few reliable and professional options. From that initial conversation, and many more that followed, the idea for Rat Busters was born.

  1. What is your education/training background?

With over 9 years of experience in the pest control field I initially began as an apprentice to many highly trained Pest Control Des Moines experts. The experience I gained was invaluable! Of course, eventually I became licensed by the State, during this process it was required that I demonstrate my knowledge of the rules, regulations, and best practices for success in this industry. From there I earned the opportunity to conduct my own route with my previous employers. In a constant effort to expand my skills and expertise I now hold a “Commercial Wildlife Management Certification” through the State of Florida, which is required by law to deal with rodents in, on, or around any structure or building in the state.
4. What services do you provide?
In a nutshell we provide animal removal services, as well as, animal exclusion and prevention services.
To be more precise we remove 4 legged critters and birds from people’s homes, businesses and yards.
Our most common requests for help is with rats and mice. In those situations we first need to trap and remove all of the rodents who have found their way inside. The second step is to permanently seal up the entry points where the rodents are gaining access to the home or business so that no new vermin can ever enter again! Only AFTER the building is sealed do we then suggest the third step which is to place exterior bait stations that work 24/7 to terminate any rodents that do come into the area in the future.
We also get a lot of calls for other animal removal cases where bigger critters have found their way into attics, pool areas and yards. Topping the list in these cases are raccoons, opossums, iguanas, squirrels, coyotes, foxes, pigeons, and Muscovy ducks. Pretty much ANY animal that can cause a nuisance, we have humanely caught and removed.
5. What hours are you available?
We are available and on call 24 hours a day for emergencies!
6. Are you involved with any community groups?
We are proud members of the local BNI Ignite Chapter of Business Network International, Florida Atlantic Alumni Association, Boca Jets Lacrosse, & City of Boca Raton Athletics (COBRA) Softball League.
7. What do you love most about the business?
It is an extremely rewarding feeling to know that we get to help people solve the problems that they are having with wildlife. Whenever possible we will relocate the animals to a more suitable environment, which overall is a win/win experience for both the humans and critters who find themselves involved in conflict.
8. What do you think is your biggest challenge with the business?
I can think of 2 challenges for the people we provide services for that end up costing them way more money than they should ever have to spend.
The first one is that some people will wait until the problem is way out of control, with a massive infestation, before they actually call us. In that situation there is always more damage from rats chewing things up and contaminating the space with droppings and urine. The bigger the infestation – the higher the cost will be for the homeowner to solve the problem.
The second challenge is when people call their regular “bug exterminator” to deal with rodents. Countless times we come into a circumstance that was handled incorrectly by using rat baits and poisons on the exterior before the house is sealed or, believe it or not, the homeowner or unqualified exterminator actually places rat poison inside the home! This is always a bad idea because the rats can die inside your walls and the stench of decomposition is unbelievable. If the rats die in an inaccessible area the only way to solve the problem is to cut into the drywall and the job becomes much more expensive for the homeowner. Worst of all, even if it kills the rats and they don’t die in an unreachable spot, more rodents will enter because the home is not sealed off properly. It will become a never ending cycle if the job is not done correctly.
9. What do you want the community to know about you?
We care about wildlife and we care about you. Our goal is to provide exceptional service with the utmost of professionalism, integrity and honesty. We do what we say we will do, we show up when we say we will, and what we do works so efficiently that we stand behind our work with a LIFETIME GUARANTEE! We are fully licensed and insured for your protection. We strive to make sure that whenever you hear a friend or neighbor asking who they should call when having animal control problems, that your answer, without hesitation, will instantly be RAT BUSTERS!

The Spittle in Spirit Airlines

Update (October 2016): I just purchased a round trip to NYC for $92.

As both a passenger and investor I find Spirit Airlines to be compelling and frustrating. On the positive side I am amazed that I can now day trip from South Florida to New York City for less than $200. Spirit has 4 nonstop flights each way from Fort Lauderdale to LaGuardia and another 4 each way to Newark.
I have taken day trips to NYC for afternoon business meetings and also done a couple all-nighters when I had morning meetings. If you do it right, you can save a huge amount of money. Today I was looking at a round trip for about $166 including everything.
As an investor, the company is trading at a low price-earnings ratio of less than 9. On first thoughts, you’d be much better off if you were to buy google shares uk. And maybe that would’s true. But, while they have substantial debt, their debt-equity ratio is about half the industry average. It is considered an “ultra low cost carrier” (ULCC) – their operating structure allows them to keep their costs very low compared to others. That makes them very competitive on price and also profitable. With all that, the business should grow and perform well.
The planes are also the newest of any airline and that makes them safer, cleaner and more efficient.
With that said the negatives are huge. Spirit is the most unpleasant airline I have ever flown. The seats are so uncomfortable my butt hurt after my first flight. I bought a seat cushion just for Spirit. It is arguably more pleasant to ride the subway in New York.
Spirit works well if you play the game. There are many extra fees if you’re not careful. Keys to saving money: Book online, travel very light (only one small bag), and take whatever seat they give you. There’s no free food or beverages on the flight but the prices are cheaper than what you’ll pay in the airport. You can’t bring any drinks with you through TSA but you can bring a sandwich or other food if you want to save a little more. Or just don’t eat. There’s no WiFi on the plane either.
Customer service is highly variable. So far on every flight the pilot and flight attendants have been excellent.
The ground crew and phone staff have been the opposite. The airline seems to have made a deliberate decision to hire people who speak English poorly with strong accents and put them in charge of the microphones. On one occasion I was waiting for my flight and there was a series of announcements I did not understand. An older gentleman sitting near me was swearing up and down how he couldn’t get a word. I wasn’t doing much better.
All of a sudden a bunch of people left the gate area. We didn’t know why. It later turned out that the flight before us had been moved to another gate. People missed that flight because the communication was so poor. It was the last flight of the day to that city.
And that leads to my most recent experience. On another trip I was bumped from my flight and was told I’d get a free voucher for a future round-trip. The deadline to use the voucher was short and I just booked a flight for December. It turns out that the “voucher” was misleading. This is what it said:

Please Accept This Voucher for the Inconvenience
Hi WARREN. We’re really sorry that we couldn’t get you on your flight. We care about your satisfaction and want to make this right.
Please accept our apologies along with this voucher for future travel to any of our destinations.

You may use your voucher by calling Reservations at 1.801.401.2222, Option 3. Provide your information at each of the prompts and tell the representative that you are redeeming the voucher.

It was accompanied by some fine print including what the voucher doesn’t cover:

*The voucher expiration date cannot be extended or changed and does not cover taxes and optional services.
*The voucher is applicable to the flight-only portion of the base fare and cannot be redeemed for bags and other optional services.

*Vouchers cannot be applied to the following government taxes, fees and carrier optional services: (a) a segment tax of $4.00 per U.S. domestic flight segments (a flight segment is defined as one takeoff and landing) of a Customer’s itinerary; (b) up to $18.00 for local airport passenger facility charges (c) a September 11th Security Fee of $5.60 per enplanement originating at a U.S. airport; (d) a Passenger Usage Fee of up to $17.99 per one way travel per traveling customer applies to most reservations excluding bookings completed at Spirit Airlines’ airport locations as well as certain bookings to or from Colombia. A lower fee of $8.99 may apply to certain discount fares. …

So I called today to book a flight. If I was booking online without the voucher it would have cost the $166 I mentioned above:
When I was booking I was told I would have to pay $100 to cover everything not included with the voucher. I asked for a breakdown of the $100 and never got a clear answer. The rep I dealt with had a strong accent and spoke too fast (and I’m a New Yorker). She eventually waived the $25 fee for booking over the phone.

They required me to use the voucher over the phone and tried to bill me $25 for booking by phone.

Ultimately it cost me $75 to book my “free” flight. Notice from the image above that the online breakdown only shows the government’s cut at $35. I genuinely believe Spirit just screwed me on that extra $40. That could lead to class action lawsuit against Spirit so as a shareholder I hope they’ll be more careful about this in the future.
Despite my complaints, I will keep flying Spirit, hold my stock and possibly buy more. The business model is compelling to me as both a passenger and investor. At the same time I worry that most passengers will not be willing to put up with all the hassles, especially when there are options like empty leg flights which mean you can have all the benefits of flying privately but without the usual price tag. Still, most people will keep flying commercially which is good news for Spirit.
What do our readers think? Let us know in the comments here or on our Facebook post.